Library of Mu record:
Date: November 1995
Journal: Q Magazine
Author: John Harris
Type of resource: Features
Status: text
No. views: 9088
Description: Transcript and review of events at In The City


By John Harris (November 1995, Q Magazine)

...The KLF don't. Notorious music biz scamsters resurface at In The City seminar bearing rum tales of peculiar pecuniary pyrotechnics.

Thirteen months ago, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty - aka The KLF, latterly known as The K Foundation - decamped to the Hebridean Island of Jura. There, in the presence of a camerman, they solemnly performed an act that would send any mere mortal hurtling towards insanity: put simply, they burned a million pounds.

News of this creditably private act began to break when the charred remains of #50 notes were washed up on the local shoreline - but it wasn't until last month that Drummond and Cauty went fully public. Following a Guardian ad announcing their reappearance, they surfaced at Manchester's annual music biz talkathon-cum-festival, In The City, armed with one projector, two reels of cine film and a single query: Was the torching of the dosh a ``rock'n'roll'' thing to do?

The movie was duly screened before an audience of delegates (including legendarily verbose Factory Records boss Anthony H. Wilson), and Drummond and Cauty initiated the debate. These are the highlights.

BILL DRUMMOND: It's taken us a year to come to terms with what we did. And now we feel we want to try and find out why we did it. Sometimes we think it was a rock'n'roll thing. Sometimes that feels right - and sometimes it feels like an insult. We felt we should show it here because you might be the right people to ask. And, erm.... will we take a vote at the end?


BD: So, is it rock'n'roll?

AUDIENCE MEMBER (displaying thinning and distinctly ``frizzy'' coiffure): What is rock'n'roll?

BD: Er.... it isn't your haircut! (laughs).

MOUTHY NORTHERN BLOKE: It depends if you make a profit out of all this.

BD: That makes it into rock'n'roll?

MNB: No. If you make a profit it isn't rock'n'roll. I don't know... it looks like a waste of money to me.

BD: It looks like a waste of money to you. Hmmmmf.

DISEMBODIED VOICE: It's very indulgent.

BD: It's very indulgent. (Turning to Jimmy) Do we agree with that?

JC: Yeah, yeah, it is..... yeah.

(Uproarious chortling. Further, elliptical questions follow, eventually re-routed back to whether the act was rock'n'roll.)


BD: That's good! We'll go for that.

VARIOUS OTHER SDTs (fending off shouts of "Shut up!" from Anthony H Wilson): It's ritualistic! It's got spiritual connotations! It's rave, kidder!

SCOUSE MAN WITH PONYTAIL: What was the initial thought process that made you do it?

BD: The same kind of thought process that makes you want to go and make a record.

SMWP: Well then! It's rock'n'roll!

ANTHONY H WILSON'S GIRLFRIEND (Yvette Livesey, ex-Miss UK and In The City head honcho): It's not irresponsible enough to be rock'n'roll: it was \your\ money, after all. You could do what you wanted with it.

ANTHONY H WILSON: It's like throwing televisions out of hotel windows. The point is, that isn't your television - it belongs to the hotel. This was your money, and maybe that's why it's not rock'n'roll.

WAG BY THE FILM PROJECTOR: You should have set fire to yourselves! (Huge laughter)

BD: Hmmm. We hadn't thought of that....

(Exchanges involving 1993's Turner Prize scam (see Q89 [see also 9401fac1.txt]) alighting on the fact that the destruction and reprinting of the million pounds that Drummond and Cauty had nailed to a board cost the Bank Of England a mere #500.)

IMPOSSIBLY DOUR AMERICAN: Hey guys, I don't know if you're gonna find many answers here, cos I think the music industry is used to excess and waste. We're a bit ambivalent about it.

MAN THREE ROWS BACK: What are you going to do with the ashes?

JC: We've got an idea to make a brick out of the ashes. And the movie's going to be shown in different places to see what people think.

(Long chat about the nature of art-rock and if the last twenty minutes have been ``a bit of wank'').

ANTHONY H WILSON (pointing at Impossibly Dour American): I think what Mark was saying here was, we're not very shocked. We feel very at ease with it, cos we're used to people pissing money up the wall or sticking it up their noses or whatever. Does that surprise you?

BD: No! We're not saying ``Please can this be rock'n'roll''. We're here to find out. There's part of us would like it to be rock'n'roll, but another part is annoyed that's maybe all it is; that it's only rock'n'roll - and when you get to our age you don't wanna be doing rock'n'roll, you wanna.....

AHW: You wanna what?

BD: Exactly!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Why don't you take the film to a Rwandan refugee camp and show it there?

JC: That is actually on the list. We'll probably get round to it.

AHW's GIRLFRIEND (going back to the rock'n'roll question): Maybe it is rock'n'roll, because we all accept it as being OK. To us it's normal.

(Incredibly, no-one raises any objection to this claim. Drummond and Cauty go on to talk about the near-riot that greeted the film's hush-hush first screening on the Isle of Jura, the location of the bonfire.)

JC (sounding louche beyond words): The people there were so angry. People said ``Why didn't you give it to me? Why didn't [you] give it away?'' That's all they had to say. It wasn't that interesting.

(Further hot air about the outmoded idea of the cool million, guilt, and whether it may have been ``pop'').

BD: Right. I think we've run out of time. Hands up who thinks it's rock'n'roll.

(Eight people out of 150 cast their cote. Just about everyone else goes for the ``not rock'n'roll'' option.)

AHW: The thing is, we think \you're\ rock'n'roll. Hands up who thinks Bill and Jimmy are rock'n'roll.

(The entire audience raise their arms skyward. Applause. Exit Drummond, Cauty and everyone else.)


Picture: Bill sporting rather granny-style specs; Jimmy looking suitably bored and with greying hair. Table decked with empty glasses and Boddies Export bottles. Caption: "It's very indulgent... Do we agree with that?'' Bill Drummond throws the "we burned a million quid'' discussion open.

Picture: The K Foundation Guardian advert. Caption: The Guardian ad: one question down, eight to go...



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Posted by Guest on 2007-09-04 03:12:21

What a waste of time

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